New measures to recruit, retain and certify early childhood educators (ECEs) will support Alberta’s economic recovery by improving access to quality and affordable childcare for families.
Alberta’s government has expanded the paid hours that are eligible for existing wage top-ups for frontline certified ECEs. As of Oct. 1, all paid hours are now eligible for the existing wage top-ups, including indirect time and employer-paid vacation time.
These measures represent an investment of nearly $90 million in federal and provincial funding through to the end of fiscal 2025/2026. Provincial funding will support this enhanced wage top-up for certified ECEs working in out-of-school care programs.
To build the ECE workforce, the governments of Alberta and Canada are making it easier for Albertans to start a career in childcare. The enrolment capacity for the free level one childcare orientation is being more than doubled from 4,000 to 10,000 spaces, and the course is now available to any Albertan, regardless of whether or not they are currently working in a childcare program.
“We know that early childhood educators are the backbone of our childcare system,” said Matt Jones, minister of children’s services. “The immediate and longer-term steps that we are taking will support early childhood educators in their jobs and training and will ensure a strong and qualified workforce for the years to come.”
“Early childhood educators are the heart of the early learning and childcare system. By providing the workforce with the training, resources and support they need, we are supporting their growth and the growth of a high-quality childcare system in Alberta,” said Karina Gould, federal minister of families, children and social development.
Alberta is also moving forward on other workforce supports, including:
• Developing a new competency-based approach to certification, which will better assess and factor in an ECE’s experience, knowledge and skills, as well as their educational background.
• Supporting career pathways for ECEs through the development of a free online portal that will be a single point of access to educational information and other resources.
• Creating an ECE substitute/casual pool to provide employment opportunities and help staff childcare programs during planned and unplanned staff absences.
• Launching pilot programs with diverse communities to promote their entry into the childcare field.
• Continuing to work with Advanced Education to improve access to post-secondary programs, creating more in-person and virtual ECE spaces in targeted locations and programs.
In early 2023, the level one ECE orientation course content will be modernized to include new modules for out-of-school care and family day home environments.
The governments of Alberta and Canada will continue to support the ECE workforce through longer-term investment strategies currently being developed, with a commitment to work with stakeholders on their implementation.